“Want / Need / Wear / Read” a Simple Gifting Philosophy

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It’s the first of December.  Our mantle is decorated with soft pine greenery and a spiced soy candle is almost always burning.  We have been diffusing a lovely mixture of clove and orange oils right after waking to get some holiday spirit in the air while keeping us well and good, and chopped wood logs are stacked near our fireplace ready to crackle and keep our toes warm as we hunker down for a slow, restful season.  Alas, Christmas time is drawing near and it starting to feel so very cheery in our home.  I have completed all of our holiday shopping (hallelujah!) which is a pretty splendid feat, given that we have not yet chopped down our tree nor have we sent out Christmas cards.  All in good time i keep telling myself.  And honestly, I am in no rush this year to get any of that done.  We are taking this season one step at a time and it feels good to take small strides and not overdo everything so quickly as instagram tells us we should.  I think we’ll end up enjoying the holidays much more this way.  But I must say, having the gifts all done so early is one major check off the ol’ list.
So let’s talk gifting, shall we?  In keeping with what we’ve done in seasons past, Andrew and I have chosen to keep gifting rather simple again this year, especially now that we have another little elf to buy presents for.  It is so very important to us that our kids learn to cherish what they receive and not get caught up in the unappreciative cycle of wanting more and more as the season progresses and opening presents becomes a regular occurrence as the weeks march on and we celebrate Christmas with different parts of our family.  That being said, and i know gifts are far from being the most important part of christmas, but that morning after santa has plopped himself down the chimney and put presents under the tree is pretty darn neat and such a special part of childhood.  I remember waking much earlier than my parents to peek into the living room to see the beautifully wrapped boxes waiting to be shaken, the red bows begging to be untied.  Thinking about that time in my life gets me so giddy to play the role of santa with Andrew on Christmas Eve as we tip toe around the creaky floorboards, our three babes tucked in their beds.

More often than not when looking for gifts we turn to toys and books and art supplies that help grow their imaginations and spark creativity.  We also love items that are well-made and we opt for quality over quantity, taking into account that less really is more when it comes to just about everything, gifting included.  Here is a lovely gifting philosophy we are following this year and I am so happy to share it with you.  Some of you may have heard of this before, it is such a brilliant idea.  It’s called “Want/Need/Wear/Read” and it’s simple and straightforward.  I really love it.  It keeps things easy when shopping and sets the tone for what your kiddos will get so you don’t feel the pressure to outdo the year before.  We are following this simple yet thoughtful gifting philosophy for each kiddo and then getting them a few small things to fill their stockings that hang on the fireplace.  We also decided to add a few family gifts from Santa to the mix, some games we can play together on Christmas day.  This year we are getting jenga and spirograph to play after we open presents.  So fun!

Why keep things simple and not go crazy when it comes to gifts on Christmas?  Well for one, the toy situation can get out of control pretty darn fast if you let it.  And then there’s wanting to keep a clutter free and intentional home.  By giving your kids heaps of stuff that minimal lifestyle really isn’t possible.  In our home before the holidays arrive, we do a toy purge and donate a bunch of items to local thrift stores.  Toy drives are great for this too, and we try our best to follow the “one toy in, one toy out” rule.  But the most important reason we feel for not going overboard on gifting is so our children will appreciate what they receive while learning about the specialness of this time and how it is more about love and kindness than the number of things to unwrap.

We’ve seen and experienced present overload before, have you?  A tornado of gifts with wrapping paper flying in every direction, ultimately turning the moment into an overwhelming mess where little to none is savored to appreciate.  When given too many things at once, we have noticed that our kids really don’t have the energy to focus on what they have been given and therefore end up dissatisfied and overstimulated.  That is unfortunate for everyone and not the point of giving in the first place.  The times we’ve given just a few quality gifts for them to cherish the results have been gratifying because they were much more invested in playtime, and in turn, so much more appreciative!  So when it comes to holidays (and birthdays, too) we focus on getting our babes a few nice things and move onto spending time together, whether that be in the kitchen making cookies or cozed up on the couch watching a movie.

This year, Santa will get several quality items following the “Want/Need/Wear/Read” philosophy and tell the grandparents to do the same.  One gift they want, one gift they need, one gift they can wear, and one gift they can read.  Practical but special.  If that doesn’t suit the givers, we offer suggestions of things to do with the kids by giving experiences in lieu of items.  Giving experiences is a great solution when living in a small space or when wanting less stuff around.  This year my parents are giving our family tickets to see Peppa Pig down town as part of our Christmas gift, a real treat for Andrew and I as we will get to take both Theo and Stell on a date to see their first show.  In years past, grandparents have given ballet lessons, movie tickets, zoo passes, aquarium visits, and other fun things to do around the city.  We love suggesting these ideas as they create beautiful memories and keep the focus on togetherness.

How do you tell your loved ones you really don’t want them giving your child an overflowing pile of stuff for Christmas?  I say, just tell them outright, plain and simple.  If they chose to go their own route, know you will always have the final say about what your little ones get to keep and what is allowed to come through your front door and into your sacred space.  I feel that the gift is in the giving, not in the actual present itself, so once it’s yours feel free to do with it as you please, even if that means it goes straight to the donation box or return pile.  And if nana and papa want to give your baby a garish neon sound machine, tell them to go for it!  But then to keep it at their place so your darling has something to play with when they visit.  Problem solved and you don’t need to have that contraption in your home.

What are we giving this year?  I have put together a little list of some of my favorite online shops for kids along with some of our favorite items from these lovely places.  It’s worth mentioning, we either currently own these items and love them or are gifting them this year so I can speak to their quality.  If you’ve got little ones ages 0-4 here you are some great ideas if you still have some shopping to do!

Brimful Shop: wooden teether // colorful snail sorter // art print // blankie book // louise doll // playsilk // paci

Darling Clementine: baby lit book // paris book // bloomers // pom bonnet // hair clips

Brookfarm General Store : baking set // name train // farm animals

Noble Carriage: mouse doll //  bow tie // safari puzzle // high seas outfit

We love Plan Toys, too.  They make wonderful sustainable toys for kids and their website is categorized by age!  That makes it so easy when searching for thee perfect treasure.  Theodore is getting this car garage from his nana and papa and Stella loves this pastry dough set she got for a past birthday.  She loves playing with when I am baking in the kitchen.

For beautiful well-made clothing check out Willaby + Red Creek Handmade + Mabo Kids.  We have purchased several items from each of these companies and adore their heirloom quality.  Kim, Katie, and Emily create pieces that you’ll want to pass down and save forever.

And some other fun gifts ideas that are for sure making it under our tree this year: tool bench for theodore’s want // spirograph, remember these? // bitty booties for alfie’s wear // felt cowboy hat for theodore’s wear // clock puzzle for stella’s need (we need to practice numbers) // jenga for the family // mini drudgery tools for stella for stocking stuffer // classic jump rope for stella’s want 

For other gifting inspiration check out my Pinterest board on gifting to little ones.

  • […] little shop full of lots of special things for kiddos. And I am sure you’ve heard of the Want / Need / Wear / Read simple gifting philosophy, but in case it’s new to you, I wrote a post about it last year as to why it flows so […]ReplyCancel

  • Ana

    Hi, I just read your post and I totally agree with it. My two year old daughter got a joint present from us and my parents,clothing from my sister, a homemade toy and a lovely book from my sister in law and the rest was books from other family members and friends. I really try to encourage people not to buy her things, she has more than she needs as it is.ReplyCancel

  • […] now is time to revisit those reflection questions from Step Six, and make your Christmas lists. Our family follows the Want | Need | Wear | Read gifting philosophy, which works well and prevents mad chaos of getting and gifting too much stuff. Less is more, and […]ReplyCancel

  • Anne

    I’m going to try and incorporate this idea starting this year! Two questions:
    One, how do you deal with stockings?
    Two, I am struggling with “aspirational gifts” versus what my kids actually want. This is particularly true with my daughter, who is obsessed with ponies and princesses. (Despite my best efforts to discourage this!) How do you balance kids true desires with what you’d like as a parent at your house?ReplyCancel

  • […] What fun, imaginative toys are you giving your little pretenders this year? Here is my inspiration board for “the Reader” and stay tuned for one more inspiration boards for “the MAKER” coming your way very soon. If you want to read more about our gifting philosophy head here. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] and “THE PRETENDER” to give you more ideas. If you want to read more about our GIFTING PHILOSOPHY HEAD HERE. Happy holidays, friends! I hope the coming days are full of joy, wonder, and […]ReplyCancel

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